Unemployment continues to fall in the West Midlands

Unemployment in the West Midlands was down again for the three months to August.

The total stood at 117,000 – 5,000 lower than in the previous three months to June.

Nationally, however, unemployment increased by 22,000 to 1.31 million for the quarter, as the proportion of people out of work also increased.

Analysts had previously predicted that the rate of unemployment would stay flat at 3.8 per cent, but the figures revealed an increase to 3.9 per cent for the period.

The West Midlands unemployment rate at four per cent remains ahead of the UK rate.

Meanwhile, UK employment suffered its sharpest decline in more than four years in the three months to August, the new figures reveal.

The number of people in work declined by 56,000 to 32.69 million in the quarter, as the number of people claiming unemployment benefits jumped higher, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The slump was significantly below forecasts by economists, who had predicted a 26,000 rise in employment.

The quarterly decline in employment was the heaviest fall since May 2015, when the level of employment slid by 65,000.

The number claiming unemployment benefits, including Universal Credit in the West Midlands rose by 1,570 to 134,410, or 3.7 per cent of the working population.

Sandwell saw the claimant count rise by 180 to 9,705, or 4.8 per cent of the working population, with Walsall up by 150 to 7,800, or 4.5 per cent of the working population.

Wolverhampton’s claimant count increased by 75 to 9,725, or six per cent of the working population, while Dudley had a rise of 115 to 8,310, or 4.3 per cent of the working population.

Staffordshire’s claimant total was up 115 to 10,450, or two per cent of the working population, with Cannock Chase seeing a rise of 25 to 1,415, or 2.2 per cent of the working population, South Staffordshire remained at 1,210, or 1.8 per cent of the working population, Stafford a rise of 45 to 1,380, or 1.7 per cent of the working population, and Lichfield the same at 1,105, or 1.8 per cent of the working population.

For Wyre Forest, which includes Kidderminster, there were 20 more claimants at 1,495, or 2.5 per cent of the working population.

Meanwhile, the jobs market weakened, as it slid to the eighth consecutive month of falling vacancies.

The number of vacancies fell by 11,000 to 813,000, the lowest level of vacancies since November 2017.

However, the fall represents a slowdown after vacancies had slid by 23,000 in the previous month.

The decline in employment was linked to the falling number of people under 25 in work, while all other age groups saw an increase in employment.

The number of people deemed economically inactive increased by 57,000 to 8.68 million for the quarter.

Earnings continued to grow ahead of inflation, but the rate of wage growth slowed to 3.8 per cent from four per cent last month. Analysts had predicted that wage growth would stay at four per cent.

Matt Hughes, deputy head of labour market statistics at the ONS, said: "The employment rate is rising year on year, but this growth has cooled noticeably in recent months.

"Among the under-25s, the employment rate has actually started to fall on the year.

"Pay growth continues to outstrip inflation, as it has done for over 18 months now."

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